Interview: Susie Mosher And John Boswell Bring Cult Hit CASHINO Back to Birdland

The LA cult hit will play on May 28, June 25, and July 30 at 8:30 pm

By: May. 17, 2024
Interview: Susie Mosher And John Boswell Bring Cult Hit CASHINO Back to Birdland
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Susie Mosher (Hairspray) and recording artist John Boswell star as Johnny Niagra and Pepper Cole in a special run of the critically acclaimed multimedia musical show, which opened on April 30th at Birdland. Each Cashino starts with a different short film about the lives of the two legendary singers as they embark on a quest to become internet entrepreneurs in the early 2000's, followed by a high energy and emotionally charged live set. Known for seamlessly blending 80’s pop/rock with classic show tunes, Cashino medleys include: “The Queen & I,” “Midler On The Roof,” “Chicago” and “The Prince & The Poppins.”

Cashino is playing at Birdland on May 28, June 25, and July 30, all at 8:30 pm. Tickets are available on Birdland's website.

We spoke with Mosher and Boswell about the origins of Cashino and how the run at Birdland is going.

What is Cashino, and how did it begin?

SM: In early 2001, the idea for Cashino was born in our back room in Los Angeles. 

My wife Hope Royaltey had a slot machine on her computer and it was running while we were just hanging out with friends.

John and I started joking that we were the Vegas-style entertainment, and we were hired to perform while she gambled in the comfort of her own home. We sang crazy stuff and we all laughed. We called ourselves The Cashino Singers.

Our friend Rebecca Asher was there too, and she and Hope started talking about it being a funny premise for a documentary about these two people trying to get this business, Cashino, off the ground.

So we called a bunch of our actor friends in LA and said “we are coming over with an electric piano and we are gonna film a scene of us entertaining you while you play slots online.”

After two days of filming, Rebecca and Hope edited the footage of John and me playing music in our friends living rooms and the result was pretty damn funny.

We then decided to screen the film, and Johnny Niagra and Pepper Cole, the two characters we play in the movie, came out and did a live set after.

Why Cashino? The word was blurted out that first night as the name of the business, and once it was in the film, well, it will forever be Cashino. 

How did the first show of this run go, on April 30th?

JB: It was an absolute blast! We hadn’t done the show with the film in years, so it was nostalgic for many who’d seen Cashino before, and really fun for the people seeing it for the first time. Susie and I were relieved that what we found funny then is still funny now. 

SM: Doing the live sets we created twenty years ago is so exhilarating. The muscle memory is still there, though they are incredibly challenging musically. Creating this material was the most creatively satisfying time of my life.

How did the two of you meet, originally?

JB: I was just at the beginning of an eight-year relationship with Kathy Najimy and Kathy pretty early on told Susie and me that we HAVE to meet. I remember the first time I met Susie. She came by my Los Angeles apartment when Kathy was in town (Kathy had recently moved to New York with Mo Gaffney to pursue making The Kathy And Mo Show the hit that it became). I asked Susie what she wanted to sing and I remember her singing a jazzy version of “My Funny Valentine.” We clicked immediately and shared a lot of laughs from the get-go.

How has the show evolved since you first wrote it?

JB: Each movie we did (four total) became more and more complex and because our little show was creating a buzz in L.A., we had more celebrities interested in doing cameos. The whole fun of the characters of Pepper Cole and Johnny Niagra is that they really haven’t evolved that much, their habits and neuroses have just gotten bigger. [laughs]

SM: There was always a sense of wanting to top the last show, both the new movie and the live set. As we became more entrenched in our characters and the films became more elaborate, a sort of cult of Cashino grew in LA, and by the fourth episode we were doing two shows a month to standing room only.

What was it like filming the pre-recorded segments?

JB: It was playing in the sandbox for all of us. I remember shooting a portion of the fourth movie in the desert near Baker, CA, famous for a giant thermometer that shows the temperature. We went off the highway and to an area of large desert sand dunes where it was definitely over 100 degrees outside. A desert ranger asked us if we had permits (of course, we didn’t, this was guerilla filmmaking). I think we told the guy we were making a “birthday video for a friend”. It was so hot in the sand that the sole of my shoe just melted and slid right off.

We all had jobs at the time so would meet whenever we could all get together, Susie, Hope, Rebecca and me. We filmed a scene with Dan Bucatinsky at his office on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank. Rebecca had the camera on the security guard at the gate as we drove up. He said, “You’re not allowed to film,” so she turned the camera off. That moment ended up in the third movie. Susie and I improvised the dialogue with the knowledge of what was supposed to happen in the scene, so it felt really fresh and never rehearsed. 

What’s coming up next for each of you?

SM: I have my show at Birdland, THE LINEUP, and I’m doing The Pocono Mountains Music Festival with Spot-On Entertainment in July, then going to do the Yuletide Celebration with Sandi Patty and The Indianapolis Symphony this winter.

JB: I’m in the midst of recording a new solo piano album of originals and am keeping very busy working with Scott Coulter and his company, Spot-On Entertainment, playing in pops concerts with symphonies all around the country. When I’m home, I treasure the time I have with my partner, Paul Ybarra and our two cats, Jerry and Lieutenant Dan. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JB: How we create our crazy mash-ups and medleys. For instance, when we were putting together the Chicago Medley (Chicago, the group and Chicago, the musical), we wrote a list of favorite songs from each in two columns. If there was anything that related from one side to the other, I would draw a line. Pretty soon, we were finding all sorts of fun ways to link the songs and still tell a story of sorts. I can’t say cannabis wasn’t involved, I just can’t. 

Johnny Niagra spells his name “Niagra” and not “Niagara” because his favorite singer of all time, Barbra Streisand, removed an “A” from her first name, Barbara to become Barbra. I think Johnny Niagra thinks some of Barbra’s magic will rub off on him because of this. 

Susie Mosher and I have a deep connection when it comes to improvising. We both adore doing it, both musically and verbally. As much as we both love music and really take it seriously, we also see the hilarity in making fun of music, probably because we love it so much. 

Learn more about Susie Mosher on her website and follow her on Instagram.

Follow John Boswell on Instagram.

For tickets to Cashino, visit Birdland's website.


To post a comment, you must register and login.